February 16, 2009 6:08 pm ET by Kyle Whelliston
College of Charleston at Appalachian State (Southern)
Holmes Center - Boone, NC
7:30 PM EST
We're out here on the far edge of the country on this sorta-holiday, driving past exits full of Spanish-named roads and listening to smooth jazz in a rented Chevy Aveo. While we figure out what time it really is, just wanted to point you in the direction of this intriguing Carolina battle, which will be carried by a regional sports outlet called CSS in addition to being covered by the superb, award-winning, completely invisible G!O!T!N! camera crew. It's a SoCon showdown-throwdown, and you're invited.
As you've probably heard, Stephen Curry sprained his ankle on Saturday and is listed as day-to-day; just a man, with a man's courage. The rest him/play him debate would be pretty much settled if Davidson was dominating the conference, but the College of Charleston has emerged as a very serious threat to force a in/out debate by the Selection Committee next month. C of C is 10-5 in the South division, four games behind Davidson (18-7 overall), but the Cougars are the only league team that can claim to be 1-1 against the Wildcats, and have played Curry & Co. tight in two games decided by a total of six points. There's some great balanced scoring here all across the height chart -- four in double figures -- and the team leads the league in field goal percentage at 48.1 percent. The defense sometimes springs leaks, like the hyper-efficient 1.22 points per possession it allowed in a city game at home against the surging Citadel this weekend, but this is a squad that has the top cats' number.
Tonight, the Cougars will attempt an unprecedented regular season sweep of Appalachian State (10-14, 7-9), a team that Charleston took out 88-80 at home three weeks ago. C of C and App State came into the season as the only two logical aspirants to a 2008-09 title that was signed over to Davidson sometime last March, but the Mountaineers have struggled through a rough season. There's a lot of scoring talent, especially in the backcourt -- Kellen Brand and Donald Sims combine for 27 ppg and are still young, and sophomore Ike Butts' 9.1 rpg have made him the second-leading rebounder in the SoCon, a tenth of a board behind Chattanooga's Nicchaeus Doaks. But the 'Eers backcourt has not exactly maximized the team's possessions, coming up last in the league with 16.4 turnovers per ballgame. In a microcosm of how the team's year has been going, App outrebounded Western Carolina by 17 last Saturday, but coughed it up 27 freaking times and lost 89-84.
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